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With eye-poppingly gorgeous games like Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2 still pushing the limits of what current consoles can do, it seems like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One still have plenty of life left in them. That doesn't mean that Sony and Microsoft aren't looking ahead to their next systems, though, and we've now got reason to believe that AMD will collaborating with both companies.
In an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC, AMD CEO Lisa Su stated that the company is 'working with both Sony and Microsoft on consoles,' and added that AMD is providing the 'secret sauce' to making these new machines work. Based on Su's comments, AMD is working on both new CPU and GPU chips for the console manufacturers.
Speaking very broadly, the power of the CPU affects the actual performance of a game - the size of the levels, the intelligence of the enemies, the physics - while the power of the GPU controls how detailed the graphics can be, and how many characters can appear onscreen at once. In reality the two work very closely together to create the amazing worlds you see onscreen, and increases in power to both would allow for even more complex and visually realistic games.
Neither Sony nor Microsoft have announced formal plans for their next consoles but given that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were both released in 2013, it's likely that they'll release brand new systems in 2019 or 2020. Both companies have released more powerful, 4K-capable consoles since - the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X - but it's been theorised that these will seem like minor upgrades compared to the new machines coming down the pipeline.
Su also mentioned that AMD is working particularly hard on cloud computing, something that Microsoft has also expressed a great interest in. Theoretically, you might not have to buy a disc or even download a game to your hard drive in the future. Instead, the console in your living room would do little more than display a video beamed to it by a cloud server somewhere else, where the actual computing would be taking place.
This technology is already being used in some products, such as the PlayStation Now service for playing older PS3 games on PS4. Though you retain full control of the game, it's actually being played on a Sony server miles away and sending the video feed back to your TV. That said, many parts of the world still don't have fast enough internet for this technology to be adopted by the mainstream, so it'll still be quite a while before this vision of the future comes to pass.
We're unlikely to know much more about the new consoles until Sony and Microsoft want us to, so until then we'll just have to settle for playing incredibly fun and near-photorealistic games like God of War and Forza Horizon 4. It's a hard life, eh?
Words by Tom Blagden
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